• Start: Moor Car Park
  • End: Moor Car Park
  • Country: England
  • County: Shropshire
  • Type: Country
  • Nearest pub: A good choice in Ellesmere, and small café alongside The Mere.
  • Ordnance Survey: Explorer 241; Landranger 126.
  • Difficulty: Medium
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Take a stroll around Ellesmere and Colemere - Shropshire's own lake district

Take a stroll around Ellesmere and Colemere - Shropshire's own lake district

The town of Ellesmere retains many of its fine Georgian and Victorian buildings as well as its interesting connections with canals. It was the Duke of Bridgewater who commissioned Thomas Telford to create what is now the Llangollen canal, still very popular with holiday-makers. We walk along the towpath of this canal as it passes close to the meres for which this area is famous. After the walk you can stroll into town where there is a choice of pubs and cafés, and the modernised wharf and marina as well as the hill top church of St. Mary are features of interest.

Fact file
Starting point in the Moor Car Park alongside A528 just to the south of The Mere - Grid ref. 409343.
Maps: Explorer 241; Landranger 126.
How to get there: On the A528 from Shrewsbury or the A495 from Whitchurch to reach The Mere, the large lake on the southern edge of Ellesmere.
Length of walk: 5.5 miles. Time required: Two to three hours.
Terrain is very gentle and most paths are quite firm and dry, even though this is in the midst of a watery environment.
Refreshments: A good choice in Ellesmere, and small café alongside The Mere.
Nearest tourist information at The Mere, or in Ellesmere (tel: 01691 622981).
Other places of interest nearby include Llangollen, Whittington with its ruined castle, and Whitchurch.

The Shropshire Lake District is not to be confused with the more famous Lake District in Cumbria in appearance or mode of formation. A big difference is one of height as the Shropshire Lakes are in a low and flat area, but a similarity is that they were both created by the Ice Age. The Lake District is the result of erosion by ice, whereas the Shropshire Lakes are the result of glacial deposition. As the ice moved across the lowlands and began to melt, large quantities of rock were deposited and in these deposits were huge blocks of ice. When these blocks melted they left behind the hollows which have since been filled with water to create the meres we are visiting on this walk. All around the meres is the undulating landscape created by tons of sand and clay carried and dumped here by the ice sheets spreading out from the higher land to the north and west.

The walk
1. Start from the Moor car park (charge of 60p. for four hours) where footpath signs point to the Canal Towpath and Colemere. At the end of the car park cross the road to the footpath signed Canal Towpath, and walk along the fenced path between fields. Reach the canal and turn left at the point where the signpost tells us that Colemere is 2.5 miles and the Town Centre is 1400m. The path is well surfaced as we walk towards the tunnel, which has a hand rail if required (a torch may be helpful but not vital). An alternative path is available to avoid going through the 80-metre long tunnel if desired. Pass an Ellesmere Angling Club notice on the left, as we reach Blake Mere - where fishing is a popular activity. Just follow the towpath which is firm and generally dry, as we walk on to reach Bridge 56 which just links farm fields. The broad stony path leads us on past Blake Mere, with areas of marsh and a ditch on the left, in this very watery landscape. Trees line both sides of the canal here. With trees, undergrowth and water this is a wonderful nature reserve for the birds, insects and plants which provide interest as we plod alongside the canal.

2. Reach bridge 55 and a picnic table and mooring space, then pass two wooden houses as Cole Mere comes into sight. Pass an overflow runway on the right for if the canal becomes too high - as the mere is at a much lower level. When we reach bridge 54 go up onto the bridge and cross the canal. The path divides but we turn left to walk alongside the canal for a short distance and then fork right down a few steps and into the heart of Yell Wood which fringes Cole Mere. The broad gravelly path soon splits but follow the left option which is the main path. This winds through the woods to emerge at a new kissing gate where there is the bird logo of a circular walk. Either walk across the grasses and wild flowers or take the path on the lakeside. Ahead and to the right are the yachts and to the left can be seen the small church of St John the Evangelist, built in 1870s and serving both Lyneal and Colemere. The stone used for the church was carried to the site along the canal. We walk on to reach another new kissing gate and the car park for the Colemere Country park where there are picnic tables and an information board. This tells us that this area is a Wetland of International Importance and is a Site of Special Scientific Interest for its wildlife especially insects, butterflies in spring and summer, with ducks and geese as well as migrating wading birds in autumn and winter. The grasslands do not receive any fertiliser or pesticides where some grazing is allowed after the plants have seeded.

3. From the car park walk past the boat storing area to the black and white building which is the base of the Colemere Sailing Club. Pass this along a clear gravel path which is the route of the circular walk leading through the trees and alongside the mere. At the end of the mere the path divides. The right fork continues on the circuit round the mere, so we fork left to reach a kissing gate and a narrow road. Turn right and pass the delightful thatched building of Little Mill Cottage. Go over canal bridge number 55, and immediately drop down onto the towpath (Point number 2 again) to retrace steps towards Ellesmere. On the left is the lovely garden of Little Mill Cottage. Stay on the towpath for the return walk probably seeing more of the colourful narrow boats and pass through the tunnel. After a further 400 yards turn right along the path which leads us back to the main road and our starting point in the Moors car park.
If there is time, take the short walk into town to see the interesting features of Ellesmere, passing the largest of the lakes (The Mere) with its Visitors' Centre (and ice cream stall).

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